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By: gwyned, gwyned
Sep 16 2010 12:20pm
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Right off, allow me to quickly remind my readers that MPDC is a weekly PRE featuring a Swiss tournament in the Standard Pauper format, with prizes awarded for the Top 8 finishers thanks to the sponsorship of MTGOTraders. If you've never checked out MPDC, I encourage you to browse over to for all the information and then come join us at 2:00pm EDT in the /join MPDC room. Since our new season started, I have been pleasantly surprised by the number of newcomers to this event, and after answering the same questions dozens of times, I thought it would be appropriate to compile a step-by-step, comprehensive guide to playing in Monday Pauper Deck Challenge. Also, let me remind you, that if you are interested in some of the winning decks from last season, check out some of my previous articles here at PureMTGO.

The information presented below is organized in sections, following the steps one normally takes in participating in MPDC, hopefully making it easy to scan down to find a specific piece of information. For those new to MPDC, the following information should prove quite valuable. And even some of our usual players might find a useful tidbit of information, and certainly a review of some of the basics can prove helpful at times. And, as I mentioned above, I have also included some short video of key steps in the process, since, as they say, a picture is often worth a thousand words. So, let's get started!

I. Registering Accounts

In order to get full value out of your experience, at some point you will need to register for an account on both the Wizards of the Coast Forums as well as the PDCMagic Gatherling Application. MPDC uses the Wizards of the Coast forums, specifically the Player Run Events directory, as a public place to post the Tournament Event thread, which includes a review of the tournament rules, a listing of the weekly prizes, and the Pairings and Standings Report during the event itself. While registration is not mandatory to see this information, a bug on the Wizards forums seems to greatly increase the refresh time on these pages such that you will want to register and log in to your account to see the updates as the event progresses. An example of such a thread can be found here.

In order for you to be eligible for prizes, or to accrue Season Points from multiple MPDC events, you will also need to enter you deck into Gatherling. While I will cover this process below, it is worth your time to quickly register before the event begins. And, while you are at, you might as well register for the PDCMagic Forums as well, so that you can participate in various discussions regarding not only Standard Pauper, but about the whole of the MTGO experience and particular all the various interactions with the Pauper format in general.

To register on the Wizards of the Coast Forums, go here. To register for Gatherling, go here. And to register on the PDCMagic Forums, go here.

II. Making a Deck

Next, before you can actually enter into the tournament, you need to have a Constructed deck ready to go in Magic Online. While a tutorial on the functionality of the MTGO Client is beyond the scope of this article, MPDC requires your deck to be Standard Pauper legal, which can present some unique challenges. The specific rules for Deck Construction for MPDC are as follows:

  • Must be Standard legal. As of this article, the current sets that are included in the Standard format are Shards of Alara, Conflux, Alara Reborn, Magic 2010, Magic 2011, Zendikar, Worldwake, and Rise of the Eldrazi. You can always check here to verify which sets are now included in the Standard format.
  • Cards from earlier sets that were reprinted in a Standard set are also legal; these are known as proxies. For example, you could include a 10th Edition version of Terramorphic Expanse, since this card was reprinted both in Magic 2010 and Magic 2011.
  • All cards must be Commons. Furthermore, all cards must be Commons in the current Standard format. Why this distinction? Because the Standard set includes cards that are are not Common in that set but were Common in early sets. For example, Prodigal Pyromancer was a Common in 10th Edition. It is present in both Magic 2010 and Magic 2011. However, in both these sets, it is an Uncommon. It is therefore illegal in Standard Pauper.

Want to see exactly how to determine which cards are Standard Pauper legal for your deck? Click on the video below, and I will guide you through the process of using the MTGO Client to identify which cards are currently legal and how to identify those cards that might cause confusion. 

III. Registering for MPDC

Once you've got a deck ready to go, it's time to register for the event itself! As mentioned earlier, MPDC takes place in the Anything Goes room in the MTGO client at 2:00pm EDT / 6:00pm GMT every Monday. The first 30 minutes is reserved for registration. To register, players need to join two different channels. In case you are unfamiliar with that terminology, a channel is simply a chat-room shared by anyone who chooses to join the same channel. To join the channels for MPDC, type "/join mpdc" and hit <Enter> and "/join mpdccom" and hit <Enter>. The MPDC channel is used for general communication during the event, and is also suitable for chatting with players, griping about the shuffler, and other such banter. The MPDCCOM channel, on the other hand, is used only for "official" communication, including requests to register, drop, or to report the result of your matches. In any case, registration for MPDC is quite simple. Join the MPDC and MPDCCOM channels, and in MPDCCOM, type "reg". The host will typically respond in some way indicating that your request has been accepted, but generally if you type "reg" or something similar into the channel, you can rest assured that the host has seen your request and added you to the event.

Pro Tip #1: While in most cases the order in which you register doesn't matter, it actually can make a difference, particular if the number of players in an event is small. Registration order is considered the final tiebreaker, so in the unlikely event that two players have identical tiebreaker stats (which will be discussed more fully below), the player who registered earlier will be ranked higher than the other.

Once registration has ended, the host will typically review the tournament rules, including a link to the Tournament Event thread, and afterwards will announce that Pairings are available for Round 1. This thread will serve as the primary means of communication from the host regarding Pairings for each Round as well as Standings after each Round. Once you have joined the event, be sure to follow the link to this page and keep it open in your browser. Once again, there is a recent example of this thread here. Additionally, you will want to remain joined to both the MPDC and MPDCCOM channels.

IV.Setting Up Your First Match

After registration has closed, and the host has announced that Pairings are available, you will need to check the Tournament Event thread to see which player you will be facing in the current Round. Either you or your opponent will need to create a Table in the Anything Goes room, which is simply a fancy term for creating a new game through the MTGO client. While technically it is the responsibility of the first player listed to create the Table, this convention is not generally followed by most players. Click the "New Game" button, and create a Table according to these guidelines:

  • Your Game should be set to a Constructed Standard Type.
  • Your Game should be set to a One-on-One Duel.
  • Your Game should be set to a Best 2 out of 3.
  • Your Game should be set to a 30 minute Event Timer.
  • Your Game should have the "Allow Watchers" box checked. This is by far the most common mistake.
  • Your Game should have in the comments field: "MPDC X.XX Round Y", where X.XX is the Event ID (season number + dot + event number) and Y is the current round. Technically, players often ignore the Event ID and simply use the Round number, which is acceptable.

If your opponent creates the table instead of you, please take a moment to ensure that the table is setup correctly before joining, and PM either your opponent or the host if it does not appear to be correct.

Also, be sure NOT to use the "Challenge" function of the MTGO client for MPDC. Games that are created this way are automatically placed in the Casual Room, rather than in the Anything Goes Room. This simply confuses others and makes it harder for the host to monitor the progress of the Round or to join a game if a conflict arises.

In some cases, the number of players for a given Round may not be even. In this case, a Bye will be awarded to a randomly chosen player. However, except in the case of Round 1 (where all players obviously have equal records), the Bye will only be awarded to a player who has the worst record among the remaining players. If you receive a Bye, you do not play a Match, but you record improves just as if you had won a Match.

Pro Tip #2: While your total Points earned from a Bye is the same as a Match Win (3 points), the round is which you have a Bye does not have any effect on your tiebreakers; it is essentially ignored in determining these statistics. Because of this, a Bye is generally not desirable for a player who believes he or she will have a strong showing in the tournament. A Bye is always better than a Match Loss, but technically is not as good as a Match Win, all other things being equal.

If you'd like to see a step-by-step guide through both joining MPDC and setting up a game table, check out the video below: 

V. After the Match

Once your match has concluded, it is important to report the results of the match to the host. In fact, both players are required to report their results, regardless of whether they won or lost. In order to do this, click over to the MPDCCOM channel. Type in whether you won or lost (W or L for short), and then the number of games you won and lost in the match. For example, if you won two games back-to-back in the match, you would type "W 2-0." Or, if you lost two out of the three games in the match, you would type "L 1-2." You may also include pertinent information about your result, such as "opponent had an illegal card" or "opponent's time expired," but please keep such comments brief and to the point.

Also, if you decide to leave the event for whatever reason, please include the word "drop" in your report so that the host knows not to include you in the next round's Pairings. Please do not simply drop from the event without notifying the host in this way.

Pro Tip #3: If you drop for whatever reason, but circumstances change such that you would like to continue with the tournament before the current round has finished, you are welcome to type "undrop" in the MPDCCOM channel, and the host will gladly allow you to continue in the event.

VI. Understanding the Standings Report

At the conclusion of each Swiss Round (with the possible exception of Round 1), the host will announce that Standings are now available. If you go to the Tournament Event thread, you will find a section that looks like this:

While there is quite a bit of information displayed here, the two most relevant pieces of information are your overall ranking in the tournament (displayed at the far left just before your MTGO username) and the number of Points you've accumulated. For this report, you receive 3 points whenever you win a match, and 0 points when you lose a match (a bye counts as a win in this case). This, at a glance, allows you to know where you rank in relation to the other players and to verify that the host has correctly entered your results. If that's enough information for you, feel free to skip down to the next section. Otherwise, let's try and break down exactly what all this information means.

As you can see, for any event, you will have multiple players with the same overall Points. In order to determine ranking when Points are equal, tiebreakers are necessary. In MPDC, tiebreakers are based on three statistics: Opponent's Match Win Percentage (abbreviated OMW%), Player's Game Win Percentage (PGW%), and Opponent's Game Win Percentage (OGW%). This is also their relative order of importance, as PGW% is only relevant in the case of equal OMW% stats, and likewise OGW% is only relevant in the case of equal OGW% and PGW%. Let's break down what these indicate.

OMW% is the percentage of matches that your opponent has won. Since this is your primary tiebreaker, it is in your best interest for whomever you play to win all of his or her matches, other than when he or she plays you, of course! Next, PGW% is the percentage of games you have won over the course of each match. In other words, for tiebreakers, a 2-0 Match Win is more desirable than a 2-1 Match Win. Similarly, a 1-2 Match Loss is also stronger than a 0-2 Match Loss. The final tiebreaker, OGW%, is the same statistic as PGW%, except that it tracks your opponent's games instead of your own.

Pro Tip #4: The final column on Standings has nothing to do with tiebreakers. It merely lists the results for each player. The letters stand for Matches Played (P), Matches Won (W), Matches Disqualified (D), and Byes Received (B).

VII. Special Situations

So, now that you've successfully played and reported your first match, and understand what the Standings report means, you need to make sure you are aware of any special rules that govern MPDC that come into play when something out-of-the-ordinary takes place. There are two ways to go about this. First, you can simply read over the full Tournament Information and Rules section, which is found both in the MPDC Season Document and reprinted in the Tournament Event thread for each event. For the sake of this primer though, I've included a more user-friendly format below consisting of common questions and answers that covers most, if not all, of the pertinent situations.

  • Question #1: How do you determine how many rounds the event will include? For MPDC, this is solely dependent upon attendance. With 17 or less players, the event includes 3 Rounds of Swiss with a Top 4 Playoff. With 18-23 players, the event includes 3 Rounds of Swiss with a Top 8 Playoff. With 24-34 players, the event runs 4 Swiss Rounds with a Top 8 Playoff. And with 35 players or more, the event runs 5 Swiss Rounds with a Top 8 Playoff.
  • Question #2: What happens if my opponent doesn't show up for our match? For the sake of timeliness, all players are required to start their match within 10 minutes of the Pairing announcement from the host. If your opponent is not showing up after you have created the game table, the first step is to PM him or her, assuming he or she is online. Once you have done so, and your opponent still has not responded or joined the game, PM the host and let him or her know the situation. The host will then announce that your opponent has 10 minutes to join the game, or forfeit the match. Note that this is true whether or not your opponent is online or not. However, please be patient with your fellow players and extend grace when unforeseen circumstances lead to short delays. As always, if you have an issue with a player's conduct, PM your host and ask him or her to resolve the situation.
  • Question #3: What happens if a player plays an illegal card? A player whose plays an illegal card automatically loses the match he or she is playing in. He or she must then substitute Basic Lands for any illegal cards in the deck, and then may continue the tournament as usual. However, a second violation in the same event will result in a full disqualification. If you suspect your opponent has played an illegal card, ask the host to join your table to confirm.
  • Question #4: What happens if a player's timer reaches zero during the match? If a player's timer reaches zero, his or her opponent automatically wins the match. The player whose timer expired would report "L 0-2" if he or she did not win a game prior to time expiring or "L 1-2" if he or she won a game prior to time expiring.
  • Question #5: What should I do if my opponent, or another player, is being rude, uncivil, or displaying poor sportsmanship? In this situation, your best option is to PM the host and let him know about the situation. If the behavior is occuring during a match, ask the host to join the table. Should the situation warrant, the host will ask the offending player to change his behavior. In the highly unusual case of repeat offenders, the host may disqualify the player and/or ban that player from future events.
  • Question #6: What kind of chat is acceptable in the MPDC channels or in game tables? Assuming that the content is not offensive or abusive, chat on most topics is permitted during the event in the MPDC channel. Please do not use the MPDCCOM channel for anything other than official match reports, registration, or dropping from an event.
  • Question #7: What happens if the MTGO server experiences a crash, or otherwise goes down due to technical issues? In the case of server-wide technical issues, the host will communicate with the players via the Tournament Event thread. Based on the severity of the problems, the event may be postponed or canceled. Be sure and watch the Tournament Event thread for any updates from the host.

VIII. After the Event

So, you've enjoyed your first event, maybe even earned a spot in the Top 8, and now you've got nothing left to do until the next week, right? Not exactly. In fact, once the event is over, there is still one vital step you need to complete: entering your deck into Gatherling over at Surprisingly, this is the most neglected step of all the steps we've covered. Which is a shame, since it is so easy to do. Here's how to proceed:

  1. Browse over to Gatherling over at and log in.
  2. After log in, you will find yourself in your Player Control Panel. The most recent events you participated in will be listed in the left-hand column, with a [Create Deck] link for any decklist that you have not entered. Click on this link for the appropriate event. 
  3. From MTGO, go into the Deck Editor section, and load up the Deck you wish to enter into Gatherling.
  4. Once you've loaded the Deck into the Deck Editor, click Save As, and select Local Text Deck in the upper left hand corner. Then save the Deck somewhere you can easily find it (like on your Desktop).
  5. Browse in your computer over to that location, and open up the text file.
  6. Copy and paste the contents of the text file into the appropriate sections in the Deck Database screen on Gatherling. Be sure and give your deck a memorable name and include which Archetype the deck falls into.
  7. Finally, click Create Deck at the bottom of that window, and Gatherling will automatically sort your entry and display the completed entry.

So, why don't more people enter their lists into Gatherling? Well, the fact of the matter is, you are not actually required to enter your deck into Gatherling. However, there are several advantages to doing so.

First, at the end of each Season of MPDC, there is a special event known as Worlds, where the Top 32 players of the Season face off in a Double Elimination Tournament with double the normal prizes. So how are players ranked against one another to determine who are the Top 32 players? The answer is Season Points. You see, for each MPDC event you enter, you earn Season Points according to the following formula:

  • Each Match Win is worth 3 Season Points
  • Each Match Loss is worth 1 Season Point
  • Each Bye Awarded is worth 2 Season Points

However, keep in mind that Season Points are only awarded for Matches played during the Swiss Pairings. Making Top 8 comes with its own rewards, but does not contribute to Season Points.

So what does this have to do with entering your deck in Gatherling? Quite simply, if you do not enter your deck for a particular event within the week prior to the next event, you will not receive any Season Points for that event. It is therefore imperative, if you want to qualify for Worlds, that you get into the regular habit of entering your decklist into Gatherling once the event has completed.

Pro Tip #5: In fact, given the results of the past few seasons, you can practically guarantee that you will be invited to play in MPDC Worlds each Season simply by playing out each of the four Swiss rounds for each MPDC event and faithfully entering your decklist into Gatherling after each event. This is true even if you rarely actually win more than one or two of your matches per event!

Second, entering your decklist into Gatherling is required if you wish to be eligible for prizes for a Top 8 finish or better. In fact, the Tournament Rules specify that if a player fails to enter his or her decklist into Gatherling within 48 hours after the event, that player forfeits any prizes earned! While I have yet to have to enforce this rule, it is always in your best interest to enter your deck!

Finally, entering your decklist into Gatherling improves the information available to all players concerning the current Standard Pauper metagame. When players can look back at previous events and see which decks have been enjoying the most success from week to week, this allows them to make better choices about what to play and specifically what cards are viable Sideboard options. And generally speaking, as the skill level of a group of players increases, the skill level of each individual player is likely to increase as well. Thus, while it seems counter-intuitive, helping your potential opponents make better choices will in turn force you to make better choices, and your overall skill level at Magic in general and Standard Pauper specifically will increase as a result.

Want to see exactly how to enter your decklist into Gatherling? Just watch the video provided below, and you'll understand exactly how it works.


And with that, I conclude this massive MPDC New Player Primer. This turned into a much larger project than I believed it would when I started, but ultimately I believe this comprehensive format will prove invaluable to our new players. Just a reminder, if you would like a sneak peak at my content before it goes live here at, you can always browse over to, search for "gwyned42," select one of my video-casts, and click the Subscribe button. Also, for those of you who follow what's happening in the world of Magic through Twitter, let me remind you that you can follow all of my own Magic activities as well. So head over to Twitter and add gwyned42 to your list of people you are following. Until next time...


I've only just started by Westane at Thu, 09/16/2010 - 12:30
Westane's picture

I've only just started looking at PRE's, and have yet to participate. I never knew how they were organized, so in my head it looked like a big mess! This has greatly helped in changing my outlook on them, so I really appreciate, and will be looking in to future events.

Most of the PREs are run by kalandine at Thu, 09/16/2010 - 12:36
kalandine's picture

Most of the PREs are run similarly, but I have found that you can always jsut join the chatroom before the event and the players are happy to fill in any specific details.

Intimidation by Lythand at Fri, 09/17/2010 - 14:31
Lythand's picture

I have always been intimidated to join a larger event. Especially pauper. I once played some of the pauper regualrs in the PDC room and a few where quite rude to the new guy trying to learn the format.

One of these days I will give it a try.

Great premire for us noobs who really had not idea on joining the more organized events.

This is a great article for by Drbenwayy at Fri, 09/17/2010 - 19:36
Drbenwayy's picture

This is a great article for anyone who is looking to join this event and takes all the guess work out of trying to start in this format. I played in a event a few weeks ago, I believe I even played against you in the first round. I wanted to get your opinion and ask if you think the format has a healthy variety to it? It seems like with the popularity of lifegain, bounce, and bringing back creatures with gravedigger, that there isn't really room for aggro. What do you think about this?

Aggro vs Control by gwyned at Sat, 09/18/2010 - 07:51
gwyned's picture

I actually think there is quite a bit of variety in the format typically, and right now is no exception. The two leading contenders right now seem to be either aggro Tokens (which itself has a variety of different variations) or control America. However, if you look back at both MPDC and SPDC events (both of which are Standard Pauper) over the past few weeks, there's been a variety of top finishers, including a mono red Aggro goblin deck.

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